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Department of Records

City Archives

The Philadelphia City Archives preserves historical City records and provides access to the public. The Archives was established in 1952 under the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter.

Contact the Archives

You can contact us at (215) 685-9401 or archives.info@phila.gov.

Work Phone:

Visit the Archives

Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Appointment times: Monday, Thursday, and Friday, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Archives is located at:

548 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123

The Archives is accessible by public transportation. There are also designated parking spots for visitors in the Target parking lot on 6th Street, south of the Archives.

Visits to the City Archives are currently by appointment only. Email appointments.archives@phila.gov to schedule.


What's in the Archives

The Archives contains 20,000 cubic feet of holdings with historical, administrative, legal, research, and cultural value. The holdings cover a wide variety of subjects dating back to the late 17th century.

The Archives provides access to many different types of records, including:

  • Genealogical records
  • Real estate records
  • Ordinances and other City Council records
  • City Solicitor’s opinions
  • Mayor’s files
  • Charters of incorporation
  • Minutes of boards and commissions
  • Court records
  • Finance Department records
  • City Controller and Sinking Fund Commission
  • Home Rule Charter Commission records.

Collections of interest

Vital records, naturalizations, and taxes

Type Dates
Registrations of birth and death records* July 1, 1860 to June 30, 1915
Cemetery returns 1806 to June 30, 1860
Marriage records July 1, 1860 to December 31, 1885
Marriage records from the Orphans Court Division 1886 to 1915
Divorce records Before 1914
Naturalizations of the City and County Courts 1794 to 1904, 1914 to 1930
Records of property taxes 1773 to 1851

*Includes some late registrations filed under an 1867 supplement to the vital statistics act, with births dating to 1829.


Property and building records

Type Dates
Deeds of Philadelphia County 1683 to 1955
Mortgages of Philadelphia County 1736 to 1963
Philadelphia building permits and select building plans 1889 to 1986
City directories 1785 to 1936

Legal and institutional records

Type Dates
Criminal court records 1750s to 1950s
Civil court records 1757 to 1913
Police records 1850s to 1980s
Prison records 1790 to 1948
Blockley Almshouse records 1835 to 1920
Records of the Almshouse Hospital, Philadelphia General Hospital 1751 to 1977

Other records of interest

Type Dates
Personnel Department roster cards 1890s to 1980s
Police roster and roll books 1854 to 1925
Film collection 1940s to 1980s
Photograph collection 1855 to 1980s

Charting a Path to Resistance – an interactive mural

Stretching from the Archives foyer through the reception area and along the length of the public research room, Charting a Path to Resistance by local artist Talia Greene is an interactive mural that exposes the racism and discrimination of our collective past and celebrates the acts of resistance that countered it. The design takes inspiration from historic maps in the Archives which chart the development of Philadelphia’s streets and conversion of natural waterways to sewers.

The primary Archives document displayed is a redlining map of Philadelphia, created by a private company and shared with the City in 1944. Archives documents at the beginning of the piece tell viewers the story of housing discrimination through the 1960s.  As the mural moves into the research room, viewers move back in time, with stories of resistance to housing discrimination making way for stories of resistance to slavery.

To learn more, download the free app.

Apple app store      Google Play store


Photographs

The Department of Records has over two million photographs dating back to 1855. Of these, 30,000 are accessible online at phillyhistory.org.


Land records

PhilaDox is a land records research portal covering 1974 to the present. You can search documents for free and view watermarked copies. You need a subscription to print.

The Historical land and vital records search has digital images of:

  • Philadelphia deeds from 1683 to 1973
  • Birth, death, marriage, and naturalization records.

You must pay for a subscription to use the search.


Historic streets index

The Historic street index allows you to search the name of a Philadelphia street and see its location and any name changes it has undergone.


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